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Last Stand in Leipzig, 1945


After Basic Dwight D. Eisenhower determined towards advancing on Berlin, American troops captured Leipzig, Germany’s fifth largest metropolis.

By Michael E. Haskew

In October 1813, the mixed allied armies of Russia, Austria, Prussia, Sweden, Saxony, and Württemberg met and defeated the French Grand Armee beneath Napoleon Bonaparte on the German metropolis of Leipzig, forcing him to retreat and hastening his eventual abdication and exile to the island of Elba. Some 600,000 troopers took half within the momentous battle.

A century later, the German individuals commemorated the good victory within the Völkerschlacht, or Battle of the Nations, with the development of an enormous monument, the Völkerschlachtdenkmal, that was accomplished in time for the centennial of the battle.

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One of many tallest monuments in Europe, the monolith rises 299 ft and occupies a sq. base 417 ft by 417 ft. Almost 27,000 granite blocks and tons of concrete and sandstone have been used within the development of the two-story edifice, which features a crypt and 500 steps to a viewing platform at its prime. Adorned with figures mourning the sacrifice of the lifeless within the Battle of the Nations and celebrating the triumphant will of the German individuals, the monument was constructed like an enormous, thick-walled fortress. In April 1945, as World Warfare II got here to an finish, the monument truly turned one. How that occurred is a narrative in itself.

A key part of the battle for Leipzig centered around the huge Völkerschlachtdenkmal monument, dedicated to the defeat of Napoleon in 1813, shown here in a recent photo.

A key a part of the battle for Leipzig centered across the large Völkerschlachtdenkmal monument, devoted to the defeat of Napoleon in 1813, proven right here in a current photograph.

Montgomery’s Intentions to Take Berlin

For months, the Allied rallying cry within the West had been “On to Berlin!”

From D-Day via the hedgerows of France, the breakout, and the pursuit throughout the German frontier, British and American commanders and their troops had appeared ahead to the day that the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes can be raised in triumph within the capital of a defeated Nazi Germany.

Now, within the ultimate days of World Conflict II with the Third Reich in its dying throes, Supreme Allied Commander Common Dwight D. Eisenhower, architect of

the broad-front technique, skirted protocol a bit and cabled Soviet Premier Josef Stalin immediately. On March 28, 1945, he forwarded a message to Maj. Gen. John R. Deane, the U.S. army liaison in Moscow, and three days later the communiqué was within the Soviet dictator’s palms.

It learn partially, “My speedy operations are designed to encircle and destroy the enemy forces defending the Ruhr. My subsequent process can be to divide the remaining enemy forces by becoming a member of together with your forces…. Earlier than deciding firmly on my plans, it’s, I feel, most essential they need to be coordinated as intently as attainable with yours each as to course and timing. Might you, subsequently, inform me your intentions and let me understand how far the proposals outlined on this message conform to your possible motion. If we’re to finish the destruction of German armies directly, I regard it as important that we coordinate our motion and make each effort to good the liaison between our advancing forces. I’m ready to ship officers to you for this objective.”

A 3rd Armored Division crewman with a .30-caliber machine gun mounted on an M3 “Stuart” light tank fires on enemy troops in the woods flanking a highway near Leipzig, April 17, 1945. Although the war was nearly over, some Germans stubbornly resisted, preferring death to dishonor.

A third Armored Division crewman with a .30-caliber machine gun mounted on an M3 “Stuart” mild tank fires on enemy troops within the woods flanking a freeway close to Leipzig, April 17, 1945. Though the conflict was almost over, some Germans stubbornly resisted, preferring dying to dishonor.

By the top of March, the Allied XXI Military Group underneath British Area Marshal Bernard Montgomery had accomplished Operation Plunder and was throughout the Rhine in power. Monty’s subsequent transfer, he believed, was to be an enormous eastward offensive towards the German capital 250 miles away. In the meantime, the American XII Military Group, commanded by Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley, had crossed the Rhine greater than two weeks earlier, notably leveraging a bridgehead throughout the good river at Remagen.

Montgomery’s setpiece victory within the north had been ponderously sluggish in creating. Regardless of his March 27 message to Eisenhower, “At the moment I issued orders to military commanders for operations eastward that are about to start,” and expressing his intent to cross the Elbe River swiftly and drive “thence by autobahn to Berlin, I hope,” some high-ranking employees officers estimated that he would wish a number of weeks of preparation for a renewal of offensive operations.

Berlin: “A Status Goal”

Early in March, Eisenhower acquired phrase that the Soviet Military was throughout the Oder River, in some locations lower than 30 miles from Berlin. On March 19, the supreme commander invited Bradley to accompany him to Cannes, on the French Riviera, for a couple of days of relaxation and rest. Whereas there, Eisenhower sought the attitude of his previous comrade and fellow member of the U.S. Army Academy graduating class of 1915.

Eisenhower requested Bradley what he considered a ultimate, all-out push for Berlin. Bradley responded that the trouble would value 100,000 casualties and added wryly that it was “a reasonably stiff worth to pay for a status goal, particularly once we’ve obtained to fall again and let the opposite fellow take over.”

True sufficient, although symbolic of the Nazi evil, Berlin held little strategic army worth. Additional, the “Huge Three”—U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Stalin—had sealed the deal that designated prescribed Allied occupation zones in Germany after the top of the struggle. Berlin was 100 miles deep within the Soviet zone. It stood to cause that American and British blood shouldn’t be shed for the German capital if it was to be subsequently relinquished to the Soviets. There was additionally speak of diehard Nazis, lots of them battle-hardened males of the SS, shifting into the Harz Mountains and establishing a nationwide redoubt from which to hold on a guerrilla warfare which may final for years.

As the front lines moved closer to Berlin, the fighting became more intense. Here a soldier from the 104th Infantry Division looks for any signs of life in a disabled German tank in the middle of a ruined village.

Because the entrance strains moved nearer to Berlin, the preventing turned extra intense. Right here a soldier from the 104th Infantry Division seems to be for any indicators of life in a disabled German tank in the midst of a ruined village.

Above all, Eisenhower strove to satisfy his mission to prosecute the warfare with army moderately than political goals in thoughts. His communication with Stalin was not altogether improper. He had been approved to debate purely army points with the commanders of Allied troops, and Stalin was the commander in chief of all Pink Military forces. Churchill and Montgomery howled disapproval, however Eisenhower prevailed with the strong backing of U.S. Military Chief of Employees Common George C. Marshall.

His thoughts made up, Eisenhower rankled the British as soon as once more by eradicating Maj. Gen. William Simpson’s Ninth Military from Montgomery’s command and returning it to Bradley and XII Military Group for upcoming operations. It was clear to Montgomery that the main target of Allied offensive efforts was shifting southward to the People. Eisenhower had lengthy managed the troublesome activity of balancing the Anglo-American alliance, a tall order given the often-prickly relations between his lieutenants. This choice, nevertheless, was true to type—the suitable selection given the exigencies of the army state of affairs.

The Excessive Value For Berlin

Berlin can be left for the Soviets to overcome—and shed blood for. British and American troops would halt on the Elbe River and hyperlink up with the Soviets there. Territory seized by Eisenhower’s command and slated for postwar occupation by the Soviets can be vacated on the applicable time. Not surprisingly, some American subject commanders, notably Simpson, have been dismayed that they have been to not be allowed to advance on Berlin. However, they adopted orders.

In his response to Eisenhower, Stalin confirmed that American commander’s plan of action “coincided totally with the plan of the Soviet excessive command.” Virtually as an afterthought, he added, “Within the Soviet excessive command plans, secondary forces will subsequently be allotted to Berlin.”

In actuality, Stalin mistrusted his Western allies. Purple Military forces have been already being marshaled for the conquest of the Nazi capital. By the point the struggle for Berlin was over, the Soviets had suffered at the very least 80,000 lifeless and almost 300,000 wounded. Some estimates are larger.

Hanging Into the Coronary heart of Germany

On March 25, simply two days after the primary of Montgomery’s troops set foot on the east financial institution of the Rhine, seven divisions of the united statesFirst Military underneath Lt. Gen. Courtney Hodges struck eastward from Remagen, spearheaded by Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose’s third Armored Division. Simpson’s Ninth Military jumped off from positions across the German metropolis of Wesel with Maj. Gen. Isaac White’s 2nd Armored Division within the lead. The 2 pincers would converge some 70 miles eastward close to Lippstadt and Paderborn, trapping German Military Group B within the Ruhr, the economic coronary heart of the Reich.

Finishing their lightning run, parts of the 2 armored divisions met at Lippstadt about 1 pm on Easter Sunday, April 1. Surrounded within the Ruhr Pocket, some 30 miles by 75 miles, have been greater than 300,000 German troopers, together with the headquarters and help troops of Military Group B, a lot of the Fifteenth Military, two corps of the First Parachute Military, and all the Fifth Panzer Military.

An M4 “Sherman” medium tank from the 3rd Armored Division rolls cautiously through a shattered German village.

An M4 “Sherman” medium tank from the third Armored Division rolls cautiously via a shattered German village.

Eisenhower weighed his choices. Bradley allotted 18 divisions to the discount of the Ruhr Pocket and readied his remaining 30 divisions for the subsequent transfer. The majority of the First and Ninth Armies have been directed to proceed their eastward advance throughout central Germany and to the Elbe. Montgomery was ordered to advance within the north, defending the left flank of the XII Military Group. The U.S. Third Military, underneath Basic George S. Patton, Jr., continued driving southward towards the German metropolis of Chemnitz and the Czech border, whereas the Sixth Military Group attacked farther south and the Seventh Military thrust towards the Austrian frontier, capturing the town of Nuremberg, website of Hitler’s large Nazi Get together rallies of the 1930s, on April 20.

“You Should Cease on the Elbe”

For causes that have been by no means made completely clear, maybe to protect their preventing spirit, Eisenhower selected to withhold his determination to not advance on Berlin from nearly all of his senior commanders besides Bradley. On April four, the day Ninth Military was formally returned to XII Military Group command, Bradley maintained that his subordinates have been to endeavor to cross the Elbe and even ordered Simpson to “exploit any alternative for seizing a bridgehead over the Elbe and be ready to advance on Berlin or to the northeast.”

The veteran 2nd Armored Division once more led Simpson’s thrust; by April 12, Ninth Military had crossed the Elbe at Magdeburg, solely 50 miles from Berlin. As Simpson sought permission to proceed towards the German capital, he was shocked by Bradley’s response.

“My individuals have been keyed up,” Simpson remembered. “We’d been the primary to the Rhine, and now we have been going to be the primary to Berlin. All alongside we considered only one factor—capturing Berlin, going by way of and assembly the Russians on the opposite aspect.”

Bradley telephoned Simpson on April 15: “I’ve obtained one thing essential to inform you, and I don’t need to say it on the telephone,” the XII Military Group commander stated. When the 2 generals met at Wiesbaden, Simpson was carrying his detailed plan for the advance on Berlin.

Then, Bradley stopped him chilly. “You should cease on the Elbe,” he stated flatly. “You aren’t to advance any farther than Berlin. I’m sorry, Simp. However there it’s.”

The First Military’s Advance

Hodges’s First Military was tasked with the primary American thrust, instantly east towards the cities of Dresden and Leipzig in Saxony. For the offensive, Hodges fielded two corps: to the left was the VII beneath Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins consisting of the first and 104th Infantry Divisions and the third Armored Division, and on the fitting was V Corps beneath Maj. Gen. Clarence Huebner and together with the 2nd and 69th Infantry and ninth Armored Divisions. Ultimately, Dresden was occupied by the Pink Military following the German give up. Nevertheless, the American advance on Leipzig precipitated an uncommon collection of occasions.

An M7 105mm howitzer motor carriage (“Priest”) of the 9th Armored Division advances through the streets of a German town, April 1945.

An M7 105mm howitzer motor carriage (“Priest”) of the ninth Armored Division advances by way of the streets of a German city, April 1945.

On April 5, First Military resumed its eastward drive. Huebner’s V Corps was led by the 69th and 2nd Divisions, underneath Maj. Gens. Emil F. Reinhardt and Walter M. Robertson, respectively. After two days of preventing towards the German LXVII Corps, the most effective of their patchwork Eleventh Military, the 69th Division had superior from Kassel and crossed the Werra River. Towards lighter opposition, the 2nd Division was throughout the Weser River in little greater than 24 hours. On April 7, troops of the 2nd Division pressed six miles past the Weser. Considerations that the Germans have been getting ready a considerable protection within the neighborhood of the Weser pale.

On April eight, each V Corps infantry divisions crossed the Leine River close to Göttingen, and the next day they superior one other 10 miles towards solely token resistance. Troops of the 2nd Division found a jail camp at Duderstadt and freed 600 prisoners, together with 100 People. In the meantime, the 69th occupied Heiligenstadt.

The Flak Cannons of Leuna and Leipzig

Thus far, Bradley had been involved that his fight models keep a coordinated entrance as they superior. Nevertheless, on April 10, he lifted all restrictions on eastward motion. Huebner shifted the ninth Armored Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. John W. Leonard, to spearhead the V Corps drive. In Collins’s VII Corps, the third Armored Division, underneath the command of Brig. Gen. Doyle Hickey after the demise of Basic Rose close to Paderborn on the finish of March, led the best way.

Each divisions made vital progress because the third Armored Division liberated the Nordhausen focus camp on April 11, the place a corpsman of the 329th Medical Battalion noticed, “Rows upon rows of skin-covered skeletons met our eyes…. Their striped coats and jail numbers hung to their frames as a final token or image of those that enslaved and killed them.”

The bodies of hundreds of slave laborers are laid out at Nordhausen concentration camp in preparation for burial. GIs from the 3rd Armored Division liberated the camp on April 11, 1945.

The our bodies of a whole lot of slave laborers are laid out at Nordhausen focus camp in preparation for burial. GIs from the third Armored Division liberated the camp on April 11, 1945.

The tankers waited for gasoline, and within the meantime discovered a slave labor camp with a capability for 30,000 staff, none of whom appeared to have been left alive, and a big underground manufacturing facility that produced engines for the dreaded V-2 rocket that terrorized London and different cities within the waning months of the warfare.

An American soldier inspects the engine of a V-2 pilotless rocket bomb on the assembly line at the underground factory near Nordhausen. The V-1 rockets were also assembled here by slave laborers from concentration camps.

An American soldier inspects the engine of a V-2 pilotless rocket bomb on the meeting line on the underground manufacturing unit close to Nordhausen. The V-1 rockets have been additionally assembled right here by slave laborers from focus camps.

Because the V Corps vanguard approached the Saale River, its northern shoulder got here underneath hearth from German antiaircraft weapons, their crews directed to depress their firing angles to hit the American armored formations. The ninth Armored Division misplaced 9 tanks to the correct hearth earlier than the weapons have been silenced. Apparently, the Germans had concentrated a number of rings of antiaircraft weapons within the area—to not defend the cities, however to protect artificial oil refineries and quite a few industrial amenities within the neighborhood. Reviews point out that 374 heavy flak weapons have been within the space, 104 of them across the metropolis of Leuna and 174 round Leipzig.

Because the spring of 1944, the 14th Flak Division had been headquartered in Leipzig. Grouped in batteries of 12 to 36 weapons, they ranged from 75mm to heavy 128mm weapons. Early within the struggle, the German 88mm antiaircraft gun had confirmed lethal towards floor targets, and the flat terrain surrounding Leipzig provided wonderful fields of fireside. The world had been recognized to Allied airmen as “Flak Alley” for a while; nevertheless, nobody had discovered it vital to tell the advancing infantry and armor of the menace that awaited them.

Common Huebner concluded that the flak weapons have been the outer band of the defenses of Leipzig. He ordered the ninth Armored Division to maneuver 13 miles southeast, across the metropolis and to the banks of the Mulde River. The 2nd Infantry Division was to proceed immediately eastward towards Leipzig, whereas the 69th was ordered to comply with the ninth Armored after which enter the town from the south and southwest.

Chopping Off Leipzig

Common Leonard’s tanks bumped into stiff resistance on the Saale River close to the city of Weissenfels and rerouted to cross the waterway on an intact bridge to the southwest. That very same day, April 13, the tanks neared the city of Zeitz and rolled over the Weisse Elster River. Breaking via the lethal ring of flak weapons, Fight Command Reserve (CCR) of the ninth Armored raced to the Mulde River, 20 miles southeast of Leipzig, on April 15.

On the 16th, CCR entered Colditz and liberated the 1,800 Allied prisoners of the notorious Oflag IV-C, higher generally known as Colditz Citadel, which held a lot of well-known and high-ranking officers, a few of whom had been transferred there due to repeated makes an attempt to flee. With the seize of Halle within the Harz Mountains two days later, Leipzig was successfully reduce off.

In the meantime, the 271st Infantry Regiment, 69th Division secured Weissenfels throughout some spirited preventing on April 13-14, killing or capturing most of the 1,500-man garrison after which crossing the Saale in small boats. On the 15th, parts of the 2nd Division captured Merseburg and occupied quite a few small cities within the space. As one regiment crossed the Saale after darkish on a railroad bridge that was broken although nonetheless standing, different infantry models crept shut sufficient to the German antiaircraft weapons to radio coordinates to their very own artillery and convey correct hearth on the positions, lastly destroying most of the enemy weapons.

Their faces full of concern for the unknown future, Leipzig residents emerge from hiding as German resistance ends and American occupation begins.

Their faces filled with concern for the unknown future, Leipzig residents emerge from hiding as German resistance ends and American occupation begins.

The Allied noose round Leipzig, Germany’s fifth largest metropolis with 750,000 inhabitants, was tightening. Leipzig had lengthy been revered for its historic significance and as a middle of German tradition, larger schooling, commerce, and business. Martin Luther had led the congregation of the St. Thomas Church there; composer Johann Sebastian Bach performed the organ in the identical church for greater than 25 years and was buried on the grounds. Composer Richard Wagner was born within the metropolis. And in Leipzig the Völkerschlachtdenkmal was constructed to commemorate an awesome victory. It was inevitable that the monument would develop into the scene of Germany’s final stand.

Poncet vs Grolmann: A Fanatic Towards a Realist

Colonel Hans von Poncet commanded the relative handful of German defenders in Leipzig, which included troops of the 14th Flak Division, a few of whom had misplaced their antiaircraft weapons and have been now serving as infantry, 750 males of the 107th Motorized Infantry Regiment, a motorized battalion of about 250 troopers, some Hitler Youth, and a number of other battalions of the Volkssturm, principally previous males and boys who had been pressured into the Military as a house guard when the fortunes of struggle turned decidedly towards Germany.

One sizable unit that Poncet didn’t management was the three,400-strong Leipzig police drive. The policemen, paramilitary in their very own proper, have been firmly beneath the command of Brig. Gen. of Police Wilhelm von Grolmann.

Grolmann decried Poncet’s willingness to make use of the Volkssturm and thought of it tantamount to homicide. He noticed nothing to be gained in a futile protection of the town. Hoping to spare Leipzig from destruction, Grolmann was notably involved about injury to the town’s electrical and water provides if the bridges over the Weisse Elster River have been destroyed to sluggish the People. Poncet couldn’t have cared much less; he was decided to battle and fortified quite a few buildings across the metropolis corridor and later withdrew into the Battle of the Nations Monument with about 150 males, a few of whom have been later described by the People as SS troops.

Whereas Poncet plotted his personal Götterdämmerung, Grolmann was making an attempt his greatest to give up the town. Late on the afternoon of April 18, Grolmann miraculously made phone contact with Common Robertson of the 2nd Division and provided to capitulate. Because the information was handed up the American chain of command from Huebner to Hodges, Grolmann acquired Poncet on the phone and was advised curtly, simply previous to the press of a hangup, that Poncet had no intention of surrendering.

Charles MacDonald Makes an attempt to Negotiate the Give up of Leipzig

By this time, Hodges had responded that solely the entire, unconditional give up of Leipzig was acceptable. Then, an already unusual collection of occasions turned much more weird. Regardless of Poncet’s intransigence, Grolmann despatched a junior officer to the closest People he might discover. Within the gathering darkness, the emissary was shuffled into the command submit of Firm G, 23rd Regiment, 2nd Division and the presence of its commander, Captain Charles B. MacDonald.

On the tender age of 22, MacDonald was a fight veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, the Hürtgen Forest, and the marketing campaign into the Third Reich. In later years, he turned an acclaimed writer and deputy chief historian for the U.S. Military, writing and supervising the preparation of a number of volumes within the official collection United States Military in World Conflict II, popularly generally known as the Inexperienced Ebook Collection. Amongst his different works are the quintessential reminiscences of a younger officer in fight, Firm Commander, and A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge. MacDonald authored The Final Offensive, the quantity of the official historical past containing the story of the autumn of Leipzig and downplayed his position in it. In Firm Commander, nevertheless, he remembered a wild night time of cat and mouse, cloak and dagger, and outright comedy.

“Now wait a minute,” MacDonald remembered asking the excited troopers who had introduced within the German officer. “Does he know I’m only a captain? Will he give up to a captain?”

“A captain’s ok,” one other soldier stated. “The Oberleutnant [first lieutenant] right here got here alongside so that you’d consider us. He’ll inform you.”

“He [the other American soldier] spoke to the German officer in German combined with gestures, principally gestures, and the Oberleutnant checked out me and smiled extensively, shaking his head up and down,” MacDonald recalled, “and saying, ‘Jawohl! Jawohl! Ist intestine! Ist intestine!’”

An American MP escorts three German prisoners of war, who had changed into civilian clothing in hopes of evading capture, to a temporary stockade near the main Leipzig railroad station. Note the other prisoners lying on the ground.

An American MP escorts three German prisoners of struggle, who had turned into civilian clothes in hopes of evading seize, to a short lived stockade close to the primary Leipzig railroad station. Word the opposite prisoners mendacity on the bottom.

Solely the regimental government officer was out there for any larger path, and he advised MacDonald to provide it a attempt. The younger captain went first to see a German main and a number of other different officers, wearing clear, neatly pressed uniforms, inside the town. When MacDonald was not satisfied, the main provided a bottle of cognac. After a drink, MacDonald, one other American officer, the German main, and their chauffeur launched into a wild nocturnal experience in a glossy Mercedes Benz—to see Grolmann.

MacDonald was scared of being shot by German sentries and by his personal males. Lastly, he arrived at Grolmann’s headquarters. In distinction to MacDonald, wearing a dirty uniform and with a scruffy beard, Grolmann was “much more immaculately dressed than the others, an extended row of army decorations throughout his chest. His face was spherical and pink and cleanly shaven. A monocle in his proper eye gave him an look that made me need to congratulate Hollywood on its film interpretations of high-ranking Nazis.”

Grolmann provided to give up however acknowledged that he had no management over Poncet. Nonetheless, he pressed MacDonald for a assure that the People wouldn’t assault. Lastly, MacDonald, Grolmann, a employees officer, and the overall’s civilian interpreter have been on their means in Grolmann’s open-top automotive to the confused American captain’s battalion headquarters. As soon as they arrived, the state of affairs was out of MacDonald’s palms. Because it turned out, the give up effort was noble however fruitless. There was already some preventing in Leipzig.

The Battle of Leipzig

Ahead parts of the 2nd and 69th Divisions entered Leipzig on April 18. The 2nd encountered some resistance alongside the Weisse Elster River, however the bridges remained intact. A number of Volkssturm and Wehrmacht troopers made a stand behind a roadblock of overturned trolley automobiles crammed with giant rocks however have been quickly subdued. Spearheaded by an armored process pressure of the 777th Tank Battalion beneath the command of Lieutenant David Zweibel, troops of the 69th superior into Leipzig from the south at 5:30 pm and bumped into decided resistance at Napoleon Platz, the place the monument was situated.

GIs from a machine-gun squad move through the rubble of a destroyed German town in early April 1945.

GIs from a machine-gun squad transfer by way of the rubble of a destroyed German city in early April 1945.

As Zweibel’s armor neared Napoleon Platz, the tankers have been greeted with a hail of small-arms hearth and rounds from panzerfaust antitank weapons. One Sherman tank was disabled, and the supporting infantry took a lot of casualties. Desperate to get out of the road of fireside, the tanks picked up velocity and rolled at almost 30 miles per hour down the streets towards the town corridor; some squaddies driving atop the armored automobiles have been truly thrown off. Defective maps prompted the attackers to overshoot metropolis corridor and positioned them in a precarious place, unable to advance or hearth on close by German positions. After darkish, the tanks have been withdrawn.

The next morning, Zweibel once more assaulted the middle of Leipzig, firing at metropolis corridor and the encompassing buildings from a variety of solely 150 yards. Simply after 9 am, following a number of irritating makes an attempt to safe the world, Zweibel despatched Leipzig’s hearth chief into metropolis corridor with a give up demand. The observe learn that the Germans should give up in the event that they needed to keep away from a heavy artillery bombardment adopted by an all-out assault with tanks, flamethrowers, and a division of infantry; the assault would start in 20 minutes. Almost 200 Germans walked out of metropolis corridor with their palms up. Inside, the our bodies of Mayor Alfred Frieberg and his spouse, Metropolis Treasurer Kurt Lisso and his spouse and daughter, and a number of other others who had dedicated suicide have been discovered.

Not wishing to live in a defeated Germany, Leipzig municipal treasurer Kurt Lisson, his wife, and daughter committed suicide in the Rathaus (city hall).

Not wishing to stay in a defeated Germany, Leipzig municipal treasurer Kurt Lisson, his spouse, and daughter dedicated suicide within the Rathaus (metropolis corridor).

Standoff on the Monument For the Battle of the Nations

Nevertheless, Leipzig was not utterly subdued. The drama on the monument remained to be performed out. On the morning of April 19, Poncet was nonetheless defiant. His small pressure occupied an almost impregnable place. Heavy artillery shells did little injury to the sturdy partitions of the monument, and the Germans inside have been holding 17 American prisoners. As a result of there have been People inside, Basic Reinhardt determined towards utilizing flamethrowers to burn the Germans out.

Because the standoff wore on, Captain Hans Trefousse, an interrogator of German prisoners with the 273rd Infantry Regiment, persuaded his commanding officer, Colonel C.M. Adams, to permit Trefousse to aim to influence Poncet to give up. Trefousse had been born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1921 and emigrated to the USA together with his mother and father on the age of 13. He graduated from Metropolis School of New York with a Phi Beta Kappa key and joined the U.S. Military when struggle broke out.

Volkssturm battalion commander Major Walter Dönicke also took his own life on April 19 in Leipzig city hall rather than surrender. Someone has propped a torn portrait of Hitler next to his body.

Volkssturm battalion commander Main Walter Dönicke additionally took his personal life on April 19 in Leipzig metropolis corridor relatively than give up. Somebody has propped a torn portrait of Hitler subsequent to his physique.

At three pm on the 19th, Trefousse, a German prisoner, and the chief officer of the 273rd Regiment, Lt. Col. George Knight, approached the monument underneath a flag of truce. When Poncet and two different German officers met them, Trefousse identified the hopelessness of the state of affairs however Poncet responded that he was beneath a direct order from Hitler to not give up. He did, nevertheless, comply with a two-hour ceasefire to permit at the very least a dozen American casualties to be eliminated.

All through the ceasefire, the 2 argued in entrance of the doorway to the monument’s present store. At 5 pm, the heated dialogue moved inside. Whereas celebrations among the many American troops have been in full swing elsewhere in Leipzig, the grim trade on the monument continued previous midnight.

“Should you have been a Bolshevik,” Poncet sneered, “I wouldn’t speak to you in any respect. In 4 years, you and I’ll meet in Siberia.”

Trefousse retorted, “If that’s true, wouldn’t it’s a pity to sacrifice all these German troopers who might assist us towards the Russians?”

Phrases of Give up

Because it appeared the deadlock would by no means be resolved, Trefousse prolonged one final choice. If Poncet surrendered and walked out of the monument alone, his males might comply with separately. At 2 am on April 20, the diehard Nazi commander strode out of the primary entrance. The pockmarked, broken monument was secured, however not earlier than some confusion ensued as to the disposition of the newly acquired prisoners.

Phrase reached Trefousse that solely Poncet can be allowed out of the monument and that the remainder of the Germans would briefly stay inside beneath guard. When Trefousse tried to influence the captives to simply accept the change in phrases, he provided to attempt to get them 48 hours’ depart within the metropolis in change for a pledge to not escape. One German insisted on the unique discount and was allowed to go away the monument.

Seemingly being watched by displeased Germanic statues, a 69th Infantry Division soldier stands amid the rubble inside the Völkerschlachtdenkmal shortly after Leipzig was taken.

Seemingly being watched by displeased Germanic statues, a 69th Infantry Division soldier stands amid the rubble contained in the Völkerschlachtdenkmal shortly after Leipzig was taken.

Trefousse went to Lt. Col. Knight for permission to grant the 48-hour depart. Knight agreed however insisted that the Germans needed to be moved with out Basic Reinhardt getting wind of the compromise. As Knight supervised the disarming of the enlisted prisoners, Trefousse guided greater than a dozen German officers by way of the strains to their houses in Leipzig. When it was time for them to return to captivity, just one failed to seem, though he did depart behind a observe of apology.

Leipzig Handed to the Soviets

Leipzig was, in the end, utterly in American palms. The infantry of the 2nd and 69th Divisions hurried to meet up with the V Corps armor that was already close to the banks of the Mulde River. Garrison troops started to file into the town to provoke its army administration.

For many American troopers, the preventing was over. They weren’t going to Berlin. They have been merely to attend for the Purple Military and prolong a tenuous hand to their allies. On April 25, 1945, 1st Lt. Albert Kotzebue of the 69th’s 273rd Infantry Regiment and three troopers of an intelligence and reconnaissance unit crossed the Elbe in a small boat and met troopers of a Pink Military Guards rifle regiment belonging to the first Ukrainian Entrance. East and West had met amid the ruins of the Third Reich.

In July, the People withdrew from Leipzig, retiring westward to the road that marked the designated postwar zones of occupation and the Purple Military moved in. For the subsequent half century, Leipzig was one of many principal cities of the communist German Democratic Republic.

At this time, after years of neglect and disrepair and the reunification of the German nation, the Völkerschlachtdenkmal has undergone in depth renovation in observance of the 200th anniversary of the primary nice Battle of Leipzig. It stays an imposing monument, not solely to the victory over Napoleon, but in addition to one of many final battles of World Conflict II.